Sow. Cultivate. Bloom.

An online journal of an uprooted life.

Archive for the month “December, 2011”

Let’s try this again, shall we? Classroom Couture Deuce

Alas, I did what I chide my students about…not reading far enough.  Classroom Couture had a nice name,  but lacked for actual content with pictures.  Let us get a redo.

Now for serious, click: Clutter-Free Classrooms!  There are pictures.  Pretty pictures.



Classroom Couture? Really?!

In almost one month I will be welcoming students to my classroom.  My six month hiatus will come to an end.  Naturally, I’ve begun planning now.  No actual lessons, but I’ve got my brain going about the things that make lessons easier to dig into.  Procedures, policies, classroom management.  Things I think the general public isn’t even aware goes into crafting a classroom.  I thought that going into my fifth year I’d have all these things in order and to a large degree, I do.

But every year is different and every year is a chance to reinvent.

In all this preemptive pondering,  I stumbled across a funny website.  The National Education Association’s (NEA) website has some useful articles and I came across an article about establishing a classroom theme for the year.  Now, let me be clear.  I don’t teach below 3rd grade for a reason.  I’ve never been one to be able to handle cutesy contrived confections of rooms or decorated spaces nor temper tantrums, wiggly butts that can’s stay in seats, etc.   Blech.  Puke.  Don’t get me wrong…I do like young children, but fear them in large numbers, for instance, in a classroom.

I digress.

I am not convinced about classroom themes, but I couldn’t help but ponder it once I found a website entitled Classroom Couture.  Maybe I can get behind it.

I present to you, dear small number of readers who are actually keeping up with my geekery, Classroom Couture.  Clicky!

The Marvels Of Student Handbooks

The advantage of working with a small staff and student body (we just hit 200+ kids for this upcoming school year) is the opportunity to take on different challenges.  For instance, putting together and writing sections of a student handbook.  Let me rephrase.  When you’ve been purposely out the classroom for six months, made a 5000 mile move and are adjusting to a new culture, the opportunity for taking on big tasks, is heightened.

Last week I asked my boss if there was anything I could do to help get ready for the upcoming school year.  She asked me to put together some forms for field trips and with the marvel of the modern-day internets I finished that task in about an hour.  I dared ask for something harder and crafting a student handbook was born.  We discussed the current handbook and goals for crafting a new one.  She graciously printed out hard copies of two student handbooks they liked and their handbook and left them on my kitchen table to simmer before the holidays.

Yesterday I read the handbooks and wrote all over the hard copies.  I am old school like that…I *have* to be able to write on things and have them in my hand when I need to brainstorm.  The goal was to integrate ideas and sections from the two handbooks into our school handbook.

While I was reading the various handbooks it hit me.  All the new information I’d just gotten from reading about Love and Logic was evident in the different approaches to procedures and policies in each handbook.  A part of reading about Love and Logic that gave voice to something I’d thought for a long time, was the difference between a systems vs. principles approach to school discipline.   Essentially, a systems approach to discipline is a classic rewards and punishment approach.  A principles approach works to create a strong foundation of core beliefs about what beliefs/teaching moments can be created from misbehavior.

I learned something rather important from reading and crafting a mundane thing such as a student handbook.  If I ever have a question about a school I want to work for in the future, I will ask to read their handbook.  They are very revealing and insightful documents I never really put much stock into prior to sitting all day editing, rewriting and writing one.

From this day forth, I will have a much better respect for each one produced.  I spent a lot of time thinking, weighing and reconsidering and deciding.  Much like a teacher does on an hourly and daily basis.  Prior to this experience, I guess I just assumed someone had decided how absences would be handled, how lunch plans would be paid for and how discipline would be handled.  This has been a unique opportunity to get a behind the scenes look at just how complex running a school is and how much thought needs to be put into what may be seen as mundane procedures and policies.   I had to challenge myself to really think of every small detail and possibility for what could happen to help me craft what we hope to happen.  And craft it in language that would sound official yet make sense to parents/guardians.

I found myself laughing aloud when I called upon some ghosts of classroom management failures to put as examples of unacceptable behavior that may warrant discipline.  Oh yes, Steak Boy, the Farter and the Vomiter, you won’t be forgotten.

I haven’t come to any ground breaking conclusions having gone through this process, but I do feel much more connected to the school where I will begin my fifth year teaching.  I wonder what would happen if more teachers were involved in shaping procedures and policies at their schools?  What would happen if teachers decided whether they wanted to take a systems vs. principles approach?  What kind of schools could we grow?




Sprouts! Yahooooooo!

This is silly and one of those type of posts that I may delete later. I woke up to three green little sprouts showing through black earth on my basil starts. Even though I get how planting from seed works it still does not cease to amaze me. Not to mention I believe it only took 4 days for this to happen. Tropical gardening; a whole lot different.

Yahoooo! Pretty sweet lil’ present to myself this holiday season.

Classroom Management 101? You decide.

A friend posted this amazing RSAnimate video today.  It seems a really fitting follow up to yesterday’s post about classroom management.

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

Side note: This may also apply to the pay-for-performance hoopla going on in the education debate.  WATCH IT. MIND BLOWN.

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